Peace, equality and regulatory reform on craft beverages were among the topics faith leaders and business owners shared with U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) during his visit to Loudoun County last Friday.
Following a tour and remarks at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society Mosque Center in Sterling – one of the largest mosques in the D.C. region – the senator met with leaders to discuss their concerns about war and relationships with international countries.
Warner joined faith leaders in celebrating Ramadan, the holiest month in Islam, and commended the center’s work in the community and engagement with social issues.
“It’s something we should all celebrate,” Warner said. “You are the face of Virginia, you are the face of America, and I’m proud to call you my fellow Americans. Let us make sure we continue to pray for peace, but continue to be sure that if we want that peace we have to vote and participate and have our voices heard.”
Warner said he is working to restrict graphic content and hate speech on social media platforms. “We need some levels of rules of the road that should say posting a video of massacre in New Zealand should not be revealed,” Warner said. “I don’t want to restrict some people’s rights, but there has to be some rules of the road on social media.”
ADAMS Government Affairs Committee Chair Robert Marro reflected, "I think people were really pleased that he is aware of what's going on, engaged, and he wants to reach out and talk about doing other things we can do to support his efforts and our efforts,"
Warner, during his second stop on the afternoon to Lost Rhino Brewing Company in Ashburn, discussed his effort to aid local craft brewers and distillers that are impacted by the trade war between the U.S. and international countries. President Donald Trump’s decision to hand down tariffs on aluminum and steel last summer has had a harmful impact on the industry, Warner said.
Trump last week lifted recently implemented tariffs on Canada and Mexico, while the U.S. and China continues to spar over economic policies.
Surrounded by local craft brewers and distillers at Lost Rhino, Warner listened to their worries about the economic impact of tariffs and taxes, and he asked for support of the Craft Modernization and Tax Reform Act, which aims to recalibrate federal excise taxes and streamline regulations on alcohol beverage producers.
With remarks circulating about tariffs' impact on consumers, Virginia Distillers Association President Gareth H. Moore said he believes the impact is more on the business owners paying higher costs for equipment and raw materials.
“It’s hurting us,” Moore said. “It’s hurting the investment that we are making, the ability to hire more staff or to keep staff on—that’s who's really getting hurt.”
Lost Rhino Brewing Company Founder and CEO Matthew Hagerman added, “We’re just trying to get some certainty so it’s not so sporadic because that does affect our growth.”
Warner has introduced bipartisan legislation to overturn some of the president’s actions on tariffs, hoping to relieve business owners from the rising production costs. Virginia has more than 200 licensed breweries and 70 craft distillers that contribute more than $9.3. billion to the economy annually, according to officials.
"We need to be tough on China's unfair and illegal trade practices. But we need to work with our allies to do it," Warner said earlier this year. "Virginia consumers and industries like craft beer and agriculture are hurting because of the president's steel and aluminum tariffs. This [Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act] would roll them back."
Warner concluded his two-day tour with a visit to Herndon for a five-year anniversary celebration for Dr. Vernon C. Walton. Dr. Walton joined First Baptist Church of Vienna in 2014, becoming just the ninth senior pastor in the church's 146-year history.